Princess Anne in The Crown: how accurate is the Princess Royal's portrayal in the Netflix show?

Separating the fact from the fiction about Princess Anne's portrayal in The Crown

Princess Anne in The Crown
(Image credit: Future: Getty / Canva)

Princess Anne's portrayal in The Crown has divided royal fans and delighted viewers over the years. But how much of Princess Anne's character in the Netflix show is accurate? Looking back over the series, this is what the show got right, and what was fabricated or exaggerated for drama on the screen...

When it comes to the portrayal of King Charles in The Crown and Princess Diana in The Crown,  there are some plotlines in the Netflix show that accurately depict events that took place in real life, and some that are embellished for drama in the show. 

Princess Anne has reflected on her own portrayal in The Crown and has pointed out some clearly fictitious moments - but what exactly did The Crown get right about the Princess Royal?

Princess Anne, Princess Royal attends The Epsom Derby

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Season 2

Princess Anne

(Image credit: Netflix)

In the very early seasons of The Crown Princess Anne was not a major character. The Princess was portrayed by twins Grace and Amelia Gilmour in seasons 1 and 2 and also by Lyla Barrett-Rye as an older child in season 2. 

The early seasons of the show portray the Princess Royal as another background character in the show and a playmate of Prince Charles'. It isn't until later in the series that her character is fleshed out and developed as she grows into a young adult. 

Season 3

In seasons 3 and 4 of the show, Erin Doherty takes over as a young Princess Anne. In these seasons we see the only daughter of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh develop into a young woman, a mother, and a wife.

Princess Anne The Crown

(Image credit: Netflix )

Did Princess Anne sleep with Andrew Parker Bowles?

One of the key plotlines in season 3 of The Crown is the Love Triangle - or more like Love Square - between Princess Anne, Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Prince Charles. 

In episode 8 of the show, Anne was dating, or sleeping with as Anne herself says in the show, 'not sure you can call what we're doing seeing,' Andrew at the same time her brother was dating Camilla Shand. Later, in episode 9, Princess Anne is asked by the Queen if she had any connection with Andrew. The Princess Royal admits she had a 'bit of fun' with Camilla's on-again-off-again boyfriend.  But did Anne and Andrew ever have anything going on?

The Crown

(Image credit: Netflix)

Royal Biographer, Sally Bedell Smith said in her book that Andrew did have a relationship with the Princess Royal, but as he was Catholic, he was "an unlikely candidate for marriage to a member of the Royal Family." Suggesting that this was a relationship that was not built for the long term.

The expert said in her biography Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, "Even when their romance eventually wound down, they remained lifelong friends." The author even claimed that they had remained close even once they married other people. "They had separated three years earlier after persistent reports that both had been unfaithful—in Anne's case with, among others, Andrew Parker Bowles," said Sally. 

In real life, Andrew is the godfather to Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall, so it is clear that the pair had a close relationship for many years and Andrew was occasionally spotted attending Zara's equestrian events.

Sally has also previously explained that Netflix embellished the love square between the four, and in fact, there was no dating crossover. The author also told Vanity Fair that the Queen would never intervene and Charles and Camilla's relationship at the time was not as serious in real life as it was depicted in the show. 

"Interfering like that is something the queen would never do," Sally told Vanity Fair. "It was highly unlikely that she even knew about Charles and Camilla. It was generally known that Camilla was in love with Andrew Parker Bowles and wanted to marry him. But no one took the romance between Charles and Camilla seriously."

Princess Anne The Crown

(Image credit: Netflix)

Season 4

Did Princess Anne really have a rocky relationship with Princess Diana?

In the show, Princess Anne complains to her mother that she is constantly being compared to Diana by members of the press. "Lovely her, dumpy me," says Anne as she complains about Prince Charles' new bride who was celebrated in the papers. In the show Princess Anne gives Diana the cold shoulder and is frustrated by Diana's popularity, but is this an accurate portrayal of their relationship?

In a Channel 5 documentary titled, Paxman on the Queen’s Children, Royal reporter Richard Kay confirmed that Anne, "did not have time for Diana...She didn’t like the way she went about her duty and the way she used the cameras and the media to promote herself, in her eyes...Anne had a much more traditional approach to monarchy and royal duty."

Similar reports from Biographer Ingrid Seward, in her 1995 book Prince Edward claim, "Anne was indifferent to Diana from the very beginning. She treated the woman, who by marriage to her elder brother might have become her Queen, with withering disdain." The author added, "She called her 'a silly girl.'"

Princess Anne

(Image credit: Netflix)

Was Princess Anne Prince Philip's favourite child?

In the show, the Queen and Prince Philip discuss which of their children are their favorites. Without hesitation, Philip claims that his only daughter is his favorite child. But is this close connection between father and daughter in the show reflected in real life?

Eileen Parker, wife of Philip's close friend Mike Parker, previously told Daily Mail, that the late Duke of Edinburgh loved his daughter's company as she was very similar to the Duke. "[Philip] always had more fun with Anne. Charles is more like the Queen, while Anne is very like Prince Philip."

It has also been suggested that Princess Anne inherited Prince Philip’s sharp ‘attitude’ and of all the Queen's children, is the one who is most like their father.

Season 5

Did Princess Anne have an affair with Timothy?

The Crown season 5

(Image credit: Netflix)

In the latest season of The Crown, Princess Anne is portrayed by Claudia Harrison.In the fourth episode, Anne talks to her mother about her relationship with Tim and says, "we intend for it to be permanent, as in, till death do us part."

The Queen is shocked and says, "You hardly know one another?" Anne responds that they have been seeing each other for almost three years. "The ink is barely dry on your divorce from Mark," says the Queen as she expresses concern about the scrutiny on the family. The discussion ends with Anne storming out of the palace and  is frustrated by her mother's suggestion that she waits, as remarrying while her ex-husband is still alive is 'forbidden'. But how accurate is this to the real-life truth?

In real life, retired Royal Navy Officer Sir Timothy Laurence became equerry to the Queen in 1986, and just three years later in 1989, romantic letters between Princess Anne and Timothy were discovered by the press. 

The relationship between Mark and Anne had deteriorated and it was revealed both had had numerous extramarital affairs, one from Mark that even resulted in a child (as DNA paternity testing proved in 1991). The couple officially separated in 1989 and in 1992 their divorce was finalized. By the end of 1992, Princess Anne was married again to Commander Timothy Laurence.

This suggests that Netflix was actually pretty spot on when it came to the portrayal of Princess Anne's romantic life in this season. In real life, the Princess is still happily married to Timothy and the pair live in Gatcombe Park.

Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.

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